Christological Monism Monophysitism

The essential doctrine of monophysitism is the assertion of the

absolute numerical unity of the person of Christ. It carries to

extremes its denial of the dual personality maintained by the

Nestorians. All vestiges of duality were banished from His being;

there were not two persons: there were not even two natures. There was

in Christ only the one nature of God the Word. The human nature at the

incarnation was abso
bed into the divine. It no more has substantive

existence than has the world in a pantheistic system. This is monism

in terms of personality. Its presuppositions are those of a mind

imbued with an all-powerful feeling for unity. It is faced with the

problem of reconciling God and the world in the person of Jesus Christ.

It brings to that problem a prejudice against the real being and the

real value of the world. Hence it is led to draw the false conclusion

that humanity, which is part of the world, is not a permanent element

in the highest truth; that even perfect humanity, humanity

representative of all that is noblest in the race, cannot be allowed

true existence in the Ideal.

Monism abandons the universal relation by abandoning one or other of

the terms to be related. Monophysitism cuts a similar knot in a

similar fashion. It jettisons redemption by excluding from the

Redeemer all kinship with that which He came to redeem. Nominally

admitting human nature into union with deity, it destroys the reality

of that transaction at a stroke by making the two natures identical.

So the incarnation, for the monophysite, becomes a myth; no change in

the nature of the Logos took place at it, and, consequently, no change

in the nature of the Man Christ Jesus.

We may trace the likeness between the cosmic and the Christological

problems still further. Monism is forced to attempt to give some

account of the world's apparent reality. Similarly monophysitism had

to try to explain those facts of Christ's life which on the face of the

Gospel narrative are human and normal. The explanation offered is

essentially the same in both systems. The monist asserts that the

world exists only in the mind of the thinker. It is an illusion of the

senses. The duty of the philosopher is to overcome the illusion by

turning away from the world of sense and fixing his mind on true being;

by ascesis and contemplation he endeavours to attain the ecstatic

state, in which the illusion of the world's reality disappears, and the

potential identity of man with the universal spirit becomes actualised

in experience. Similarly, for the monophysite, the humanity of Christ

was a creation of the senses. Christ's body was a phantom, and His

human mind simply an aspect of Him. They were impressions left on the

minds of His contemporaries. Having no substantive existence, no

reality in fact, they were to be ignored in Christological dogma. They

were not to be considered as part of the true Christ; they were not to

be worshipped. No spiritual value attached to them. They were

hindrances rather than helps to the religion that aimed at entire

abandonment of self and absorption in the divine.